With a chance to clinch no worse than a share of their first conference title since 2001, Huntley got off to a standing start Wednesday at home against McHenry.
In other words, the Red Raiders were standing around as the Warriors jumped out to a 5-0 lead. That didn’t last long, though, and by halftime they had seized control en route to a 50-30 victory behind Ali Andrews’ 21 points, leaving them 21-3 overall, 10-0 in the Fox Valley Valley and two games ahead of Prairie Ridge with two games left.
“It’s a real nice accomplishment,” Huntley coach Steve Raethz said after his team’s title and ninth straight win. “Obviously we have a ways to go.
“We’d love nothing more than to be able to win it outright.”
To do that, they simply need one win at Jacobs Saturday afternoon or Tuesday against Crystal Lake South. And the Red Raiders are thinking more in terms of a 12-0 conference season than one more win.
“It definitely is a great feeling,” said senior Sam Andrews, last year’s Courier-News player of the year. “It’s one of our main goals that we’ve had. Now we want to get those next two and we’ll be good to go for the regional.”
Huntley had periods of poor ball handling, especially early in the fourth quarter when the Warriors crept back within 12 after being down as many as 18. But Sam Andrews nailed a three-pointer with 3:21 to play that extended the lead to 15 and the Red Raiders eased home.
Sam Andrews finished with 12 points and Ali with nine rebounds besides her 21 points as she got within 33 of the career 1,000-point mark in only her second year.
“I’m not even really worrying about that or anything, just playing it game by game and seeing how everything goes, and playing as a team,” Ali Andrews said.
The two scored all 12 points in the first quarter when Huntley came back from the 5-0 deficit for a 12-5 lead. Then the Red Raiders went up 25-10 by halftime.
“I just think overall in the first half we didn’t play with much enthusiasm,” Raethz said. “I thought in the first half, especially, they kind of outplayed us.”
Huntley hit 15-of-38 from the floor for the game and had a strong second quarter from Morgan Clausen, who finished with five points and three rebounds.
McHenry (9-16, 1-8) shot 25 percent from the field (11-of-44) and was led by Alex Martens’ seven points.